An Early Birthday Present: Welcoming 4DSP to the Family


Electronic Warfare

Just before we celebrated our first anniversary as an independent company on December 7, 2016, we gave ourselves an early birthday present with the acquisition of 4DSP. 

What attracted us to this company was that it designs and manufactures commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) high-speed digital signal processing, data acquisition and field-programmable gate array (FPGA) boards and systems. That, plus they have an incredibly talented team of people who not only understand the technology—they understand what customers want to do with it.

One of 4DSP’s key markets was electronic warfare (EW) and, strategically, that’s a key market for Abaco Systems. What 4DSP brought to the table substantially enhances the breadth and depth of our electronic warfare offering, especially in FPGA and analog.

We now have the widest range of FPGA Mezzanine Cards in the mil/aero industry (by a long way—over 28 at last count, and that’s just ADCs, DACs and transceivers, not including support and I/O functions) allowing our customers to select the best module for their application. We have the latest FPGAs available on carriers in a variety of form factors—with more in development.

Recommended reading

If you’re interested in knowing more about what we’re doing in electronic warfare, I can recommend our recently-published white paper, Game-Changing Technologies in Electronic Warfare, which describes some of the architectural advances that allow more and more use of COTS assemblies in EW systems, including:

  • Trade-offs in transfer rates between ADCs/DACs and FPGA vs. latency
  • Use of general purpose processors and GPUs alongside FPGAs in heterogeneous systems for maximum flexibility and performance
  • Security of Critical Program Information
  • The convergence of multiple federated systems on platforms into multifunction, cognitive shared processing
  • Economy of COTS vs custom

In addition, look out for an interview with our very own Haydn Nelson (one of those previously mentioned talented folks) in an upcoming issue of Military Embedded Systems in which he discusses the impact of COTS on radar and electronic warfare.

So: if you’re in the business of developing sophisticated, high-performance electronic warfare systems that need to be rugged and to fit into the smallest spaces, Abaco should definitely be on your radar.


Peter Thompson

Peter Thompson is senior business development manager for High Performance Embedded Computing at Abaco Systems. He first started working on High Performance Embedded Computing systems when a 1 MFLOP machine was enough to give him a hernia while carrying it from the parking lot to a customer’s lab. He is now very happy to have 27,000 times more compute power in his phone, which weighs considerably less.

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